Have you ever thought of going to Finland? If it has never crossed your mind, it’s probably because you don’t know how fascinating this country is. There’s much more to Finland than cold weather and dark winters! In addition to being a beautiful piece of land, Finland has many unique characteristics, be it in the aspect of culture, nature or people’s lifestyles. Finnish customs, tastes and ideas often seem equally strange and fun to outsiders. To make you understand what we mean, here’s a list of 11 facts about Finland.
Fins love sauna (and jumping into cold water afterwards)
Nearly each house in Finland is equipped with sauna. There are 2, 2 million saunas (according to the Encyclopedia of Religion and Nature published in 2005, so they might have built even more of them since then) for a population of about 5,4 million people. It’s been an incredibly important part of Finnish culture for centuries. Fins go to sauna to relax and feel healthier, but it’s also a social thing, an excuse to meet up with friends or family. While Italians gather to eat pasta for dinner and Brits have their afternoon tea, Fins invite each other for sauna evenings. It’s not always the case, but many Fins prefer to go to sauna naked, so don’t be surprised to see some nudity. What may seem even more quirky though is that these tough northern people willingly jump straight into pales of snow right after getting out of the heat. Well, it can be snow, or a cold river, or a little pond – as long as it’s freezing, it’ll do.
Their heavy drinking is not just a stereotype…
Brace yourself when Fins invite you for a night out or a party at their place. They’re known to be heavy drinkers and as it happens, it’s not only a gossip. They can drink a lot indeed. If you’ve been to such places as Russia, Ukraine, Hungary or Portugal, you shouldn’t have a problem with Fins though. They aren’t Europe’s number one when it comes to drinking skills, several other countries beat them. Nevertheless, the amount of alcohol a Fin consumes in a year is much higher than the worldwide average.
…But they still prefer coffee to alcohol
Even more than alcohol, Fins enjoy drinking coffee. While coffee is usually thought to be an Italian thing, or a Balkan thing, or Brazilian, it turns out Fins love it as much as their Southern friends or even more. According to Euromonitor’s ranking of world’s largest coffee consumers released in 2013, Finland is actually the country with largest consumption – no one in the world drinks as much coffee as Fins.
Dark winters and endless sun in the summer
The climate in Finland is, to say the least, quite specific. During the winter there’s barely any sunlight, especially in the very north of the country. In the summer, on the other hand, sunlight never stops. In the northernmost part of the country the sun is up for 60 days straight. This phenomenon is known as the midnight sun and occurs in the territories north of the Arctic Circle (quarter of Finland’s land lies that far north) and south of the Antarctic Circle.
Metal’s all around the place
One more amongst Fins’ list of favorites – metal. Perhaps it’s because of the gloomy weather, or the mysterious nature, whatever the reason – Fins love to play and listen to metal music. Some of the genre’s most famous representatives come from Finland, including Nightwish, Stratovarius, HIM or Children of Bodom. Inspired by the world-known superstars, Fins keep creating new bands, many of them. There are 4.3 metal bands per 100,000 Finns, which makes them Europe’s champion. Here you can take a look at the map of heavy metal bands density in the world: http://bigthink.com/strange-maps/560-a-world-map-of-heavy-metal-density As you can see, Fins are unrivaled. Only Swedes can compete with them a little bit but still stay behind.
Silence is appreciated, not awkward
You don’t have to worry about quiet moments in Finnish company. In fact, Fins prefer quietness than small talks and babbling. It’s absolutely normal for them to do not speak. If they have nothing to say, they won’t open their mouth for the sake of killing the silence. It may seem a bit awkward at the start, especially if you come from a completely different culture, but once understood, Finnish silence can turn out to be a good thing. You just shouldn’t take it personally when they answer your questions in a very simple way. It’s not because they don’t want to talk with you – it’s just that they tend to express their thoughts concisely.
Fins seem a bit shy
Because they’re not really chatty, Fins may seem to be shy and reserved. These terms do describe them in a way, but it’s not as obvious as one would think. As we have mentioned above, it’s important to comprehend the reasons behind Finnish quietness. They might be silent because they’re shy, but they can also be silent simply because they don’t feel like to have a chat. Nevertheless, they’re definitely more reserved than many other nations in Europe. Fins aren’t into hugging and kissing strangers while saying hello. They like to keep their private space, so don’t be surprised if they don’t become all smiley, bubbly and friendly when they first meet you.
Finland has its own tango
They might be a bit shy and reserved, but Fins are by no means emotionless. In contrary, they can be very sensitive and passionate. It can be proved and explained with a number of examples, but let’s focus on one – Fins love tango, one of the most sensual dances one can possibly imagine. They actually love it so much they’ve even created their own variation, now known as the Finnish tango. They organize lots of events related to the dance, such as the Tangomarkkinat, a festival held annually in the town of Seinäjoki. It’s the world’s oldest tango festival! The dance was created far, far away in South America, but it was Fins who first thought of organizing a festival celebrating it.
Thousands of lakes and islands
Some people romantically say Finland is “the Land of a Thousand Lakes”, but they aren’t right – Finland has 187,888 lakes, not just a thousand. It’s one of the countries with the largest number of lakes in the world. As if that wasn’t striking enough, Finland has also plentiful islands. There are 789 islands larger than 1 km2, out of which 455 are inhabited. If you count in tiny islets, the number will be much higher. Now picture these lakes and islands, add some mysterious woods, rivers and swamps, the northern lights and tons of snow in the winter, endless sun and warm beaches in the summer and you get a country of extraordinary beauty.
Some surprising championships and celebrations
Fins like to celebrate all sorts of stuff and compete for a variety of strange reasons. They have, for example, an annual Day for Failure on October 13th. They organize world championships in such odd disciplines as wife carrying, mosquito catching or cell phone throwing. The air guitar championship in Oulu, ant-nest sitting competition, world cup in snowshoe football, the sex festival in Kangasniemi and matchmaking festival in Kurikka – these are just a few out of numerous quirky events held in Finland.
Finland has an amazing education system
Fins are not very serious when it comes to choosing subjects of festivals, but they’re definitely serious when it’s about their education system. The country’s education has been ranked as world’s best. There are no tuition fees, full-time students get meals at school and higher education is free for everyone. Finnish universities can be separated into two groups: traditional universities and universities of applied sciences, which provides students with lots of options. Generally, they have great practices in many aspects of education, be it integrating students into comprehensive schools or educating future specialists.
Facts about Finland
What do you think of Finland now? Would you like to visit the country? Let us know! And don’t forget to share this article with your friends; perhaps you’ll inspire them to visit this incredible place!